Whenever there was a mass shooting in the U.S., I’ve always pointed out to friends that the law doesn’t prevent a law-abiding citizen from stockpiling weapons and ammunition, spreading out their purchases over time to avoid detection by authorities, and then going on a killing spree. A point that Senator Diane Feinstein made on CBS News’ “Face The Nation” made about the Las Vegas shooter, who passed multiple background checks for purchasing weapons. It’s more difficult to buy two packs of Sudafed than to legally stockpile weapons and ammo.
While the number of households owning guns have declined between 1994 to 2013, the number of guns by gun-owning households have increased substantially to an average 8.1 guns. That number is somewhat misleading. So called “super gun owners” own eight to 140 guns, the average being 17 guns.
Who are these people who own multiple weapons?
- Collectors — When Silicon Valley had more orchards than silicon chips, many neighbors owned hunting rifles and had mounted trophies in their family rooms When I spent a weekend at a middle school friend’s ranch in Morgan Hill, his step-father pulled out an elephant gun he used for a big game hunting in Africa (no mounted elephant or lion head from that trip, but elephant gun was impressive). The next day my friend and I shot off semiautomatics as the adults shot off replicas of ball-and-powder muskets.
- Survivalists — Nut jobs in the mountains waiting for the government to take away their guns is as American as apple pie. That was the NRA mantra during the eight years of the Obama Administration. No gun owner I’ve talked to ever had President Obama show up on their doorstep to take their away guns. Their defense of the Second Amendment often boils down to being able to turn Bambi into hamburger as quickly as possible. If Republicans can pass the silencer legislation in Congress, silently as well.
- Mass Shooters — Some weapons are meant to kill people as quickly as possible in a hail of bullets, as the Las Vegas shooter and pretty much every other mass shooter in the U.S. have proven in recent years. Not all mass shooters are criminals who got their weapons illegally off the street.
The politicians are not serious about gun control in any meaningful way after the Las Vegas shooting. Banning “bump stocks” doesn’t prevent someone from modifying an semiautomatic rifle to automatic fire. California has a law going into effect in 2018 to restrict ammo sales to purchasers who passed a background check and Internet sales must ship to a licensed dealer for pick up. That doesn’t prevent someone from quietly stockpiling ammo with routine purchases or going across state lines. The only way to end the mass shootings is to pass restrictive gun laws and buy back guns from the public.